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On October 19th, a subcommittee of the Board of Forestry met to discuss alternative management plans for the Tillamook & Clatsop state forests. Any new plan needs to improve conservation AND make the Department of Forestry financially viable. This ongoing process has been dominated by a timber industry proposal to manage the forest as two zones: 70% for industrial clearcutting and 30% for conservation.
The Board directed the Department to model this proposal and the results are…not good.
Conservation: Under the current plan, 51% of the forest is open to clearcutting, 18% is thinned to create complex forest habitat, roughly 27% is not logged because it buffers streams, provides habitat to endangered species, or is too steep. The remaining 4% is roads, campgrounds, rock quarries, and power-line right-of-ways.
The new model shows 69% of the forest open to private industrial style clearcutting, and 27% of the forest protected. This alone is a drastic reduction in conservation acres. On top of that, the private industrial model would have very negative impacts on habitat compared to the current plan, which leaves more standing live trees, standing dead trees, and downed wood. The industrial model also involves more aerial pesticide application.
Financial Viability: It turns out that when you liquidate your asset by intensive clearcutting, the returns don’t last long. The model showed that the plan would pay for itself for about 25 years, after which costs far outpace revenue, leaving the Department worse off than it is now.
There are additional concerns. Based on district level groundtruthing, Department staff hinted that implementing this plan would result in less harvest than predicted. Moreover, there is a likelihood that counties and forest district would face drastic boom/bust cycles rather than steady, predictable income.
What’s next? Some timber industry modeling experts hope that there is more inventory than is currently assumed and that the forest will grow faster in the future with better stocks of wood. However, there is also reason to be pessimistic as the recent modeling didn’t account for likely forest disturbances such as wind storms or floods.
The Department is moving forward to refine their model, but so far it seems that a 70/30 fails to improve financial viability and drastically reduces conservation on our state forests.
#salmon, #orforest, #steelhead, #Tillamook, #Clatsop, #logging, #clearcut
Recently, Oregon forests have been in the news quite a bit, for both good and bad reasons. It’s a trending topic and one to keep track of—here are a few highlights:
- The Forest Grove News-Times on state forest conservation areas and appreciation: “Rallying troops over Labor Day, environmental group is trying to get parts of Tillamook Forest set aside for conservation”
- The Oregonian on deforestation in Oregon: “State law requires timber companies to replant after clear cutting. But seedlings aren’t growing as fast as mature trees are being cut, the analysis found. (Read the analysis here.)”
- With wildfires raging, here are nine things Oregonians should know: “By removing the old-growth, planting dense stands of young trees, and suppressing natural fires, we have created unnaturally flammable conditions in many forests. Old-growth trees, with their thick bark and tall trunks that keep the forest canopy safely above the flames, are much more fire-resistant than smaller, younger trees with thin bark and canopies close to the ground.”
- The Willamette Week on the timber industry and where its tax dollars go: ”
Revenue from the harvest tax has more than tripled in the past 25 years, reaching an all-time high of almost $15 million a year ago. OFRI’s take of the harvest tax has increased on three occasions. Meanwhile, the industry’s overall tax contribution to the state has plummeted.”
- Coast Community Radio on the issue of aerial pesticide spraying on clearcuts: “So when anybody tells you this is like buying Roundup off the shelf, that is just so far from the truth…”
- A Daily Astorian letter on a balanced plan for the Clatsop State Forest: “There are no federal forestlands here. If the state forest does not provide needed conservation values above what is provided on commercial timberland, then it will simply not be available in this county.
Stay tuned to your local news outlets for more on Oregon’s forests. The climate and the discussion is heating up, and your voice is needed!
On September 5th, dozens of forest lovers, volunteers, and advocates spent an amazing day discovering, serving, and enjoying the Wilson River corridor in the Tillamook State Forest.
This section of land along the Wilson River and Highway 6 is perhaps the most recognizable recreation zone in between Portland and the Oregon coast and we were out to partake in some of its offerings. Volunteers picking up at ad hoc shooting ranges collected a pickup truck full of shell casings, blown up targets, and accompanying trash. Some target shooters were kind enough to pitch in, but other groups did not seem to care.
Farther west, a group of photography enthusiasts explored some of the more sightly areas along the Wilson River, including hidden waterfalls, the Devils Lake & South Fork pool where steelhead stack up waiting to push up into spawning grounds, and some of the few remnant old trees and stumps that hint at the forests old growth history.
Adventures Across Oregon was kind enough to initiate some beginners into the world of fly fishing. These lucky learners got to learn about catching fish, but also conserving and identifying fish as part of a larger view on what it is to be an angler/advocate.
There were also hikers and bikers out enjoying the surprisingly good weather. At the end of the day, nearly 40 of us gathered for a celebratory meal at Jones Creek and discussed the need for conservation areas in these beautiful public lands.
The Board of Forestry subcommittee that is exploring new management plans for the Tillamook & Clatsop state forests met on August 12th. While the subcommittee did not make any big decisions, there were still some alarming outcomes worth noting.
The Subcommittee is charged with exploring alternative plans that would bring about improved financial viability for the Department of Forestry AND improved conservation on the forests. It would seem that this can only be achieved if there is a favorable comparison with the current plan. However, subcommittee member Mike Rose indicated that he is not concerned with comparing an alternative plan with the existing plan to determine if either is better for conservation or revenue. He is already focused on an approach in which 70% of the forest is managed like an industrial forest, including short-rotation clearcutting and intensive pesticide spraying.
Clatsop County and Washington County have both spoken up for conservation areas as an integral part of a balanced forest management plan. However, the voice of the counties is being directed almost uniformly towards a more industrial approach to forestry. Speaking on behalf of all 15 trust land counties (including Washington County, Clatsop County, Tillamook County, Columbia County, and Benton County), Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi objected to protecting old growth forests. He also advocated for private industrial style stream buffers and drastic increases in clearcutting.
If Tim Josi is not representing you, tell your county commissioners!
Perhaps of most concern is the continued lack of conservation improvement concepts. Department staff brought forward another framework that shows decreases in conservation acreage rather than an increase compared to the current plan. This framework included significant loss of High Value Conservation Areas.
A new voice added to the discussion as north coast resident, Tom Bender brought forward concepts of long-rotation forestry to the Subcommittee.